How to Train Your Dog to Stop Barking
Barking is a very natural instinct for dogs and is arguably one of the hardest things to train against, but you can do it. Uncontrollable barking is the most common behavioural issue in dogs and is a reason that so many are given up for adoption.
It is easiest to teach your dog to not bark when they are young so follow this below guide to keep your pooch calm and quiet.
Step 1 – Ignore the Barking
This may seem strange, surely if your dog is barking you should tell them no, right? Wrong. Either yelling at your dog or calling out their name when they are barking actually does the opposite, it encourages them to bark more.
Your dog will perceive your voice as your contribution to the bark and almost take it as positive reinforcement for their behaviour. If you stay quiet, then you do not reward them, and they will lose some of their enthusiasm for excessive barking.
Step 2 – Find the Stimulus
A lot of the time, though not always, dogs will bark because of a certain stimulus that causes them stress or anxiety. Some common examples include vacuum cleaners, other animals in the garden and people knocking at the door.
There can also be emotional stimuli as well, these include barking at your because they are bored, barking because they have been left alone and barking at you to get your attention. Identifying the specific things or situations that cause your dog to bark will help greatly when training them to be quiet and not bark.
Step 3 – Get Your Dog Used to the Cause
As we have discussed, dog’s will often bark due to a certain stimulus and there are ways you can deal with that. To reduce their barking a common method is to get them used to the stressful stimulus. For example, if it is a vacuum cleaner then bring it into the room without using it.
Reward your dog when they do not bark or when they stop barking by giving them some of their favourite yummy, all natural treats. Slowly increase their interaction with the stimulus, once again ignoring them when they bark and rewarding them when they are quiet.
Step 4 – Teach Your Dog Appropriate Commands
If your dog has responded well when being trained with other commands, teaching them a command such as ‘quiet’ may also help. This is slightly trickier than the other commands you may have to teach, as some dogs will interpret you giving the command as encouraging them to bark.
You can teach them this command by holding a treat in front of their nose when they are barking and give them the treat only when they are quiet. Make sure to issue your command word before you give, e.g. ‘quiet’, before giving them the treat.
Repeat this process several times, reducing the amounts of treats you give them slowly as they start to recognise the command word and respond to it. Make sure to keep your voice calm and firm when giving the quiet command.
Step 5 – Keep your dog active
This may seem irrelevant, but as mentioned before a common reason for excessive barking is simply out of boredom. If you spend the day paying attention to your dog and stimulating them both mentally and physically, they are much less likely to bark.
Make sure to take your dog on long walks and give them the chance to tire themselves out. This will also help them to sleep better at night and greatly decreases the chance that you will wake up to loud bouts of barking.
Step 6 – Take Your Dog to a Professional Trainer
If you are really struggling with giving and performing the commands to help your dog, you may want to consider taking them to a professional dog trainer.
These people use methods of training that are used on working dogs and are usually able to help. You will also get some good tips from them on how to upkeep this good behaviour back home.
I’ve Tried all of these and my Dog Won’t Stop Barking, what should I do?
It can sometimes be the case that excessive and unnecessary dog barking is the result of a more deeply routed behavioural problem. If there does not appear to be any apparent stimulus for your dog barking and teaching them to do the quiet command has not helped, you may need to have a consultation with your vet to see if there is a larger problem.
A more comprehensive assessment can help your dog by first of all identifying the larger problematic behaviour and finding the cause and reason for this behaviour.
Should I Use A Bark Collar, Do They Work?
Bark collars work on the theory of positive punishment, when a dog barks the vibrations from its throat will activate the collar and will punish the dog. This is usually by way of a sharp puff of air.
There is a lot of ethical debate surrounding these collars and also debate as to if they actually work. It seems to be that these collars provide a temporary quick-fix and will stop barking in the short term. However, using these collars will not solve the barking issue in the long term and do nothing to address the possible underlying behavioural condition that is causing your dog to bark.
The use of punishment may also cause other problems, it will damage the bond you have formed with your pet and will also cause them to become more fearful of you. This fear can lead to larger behavioural issues in the future, such as aggression and excessive chewing.